It has been about a year since the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was announced – plus its little brother, the X-E1 has been on the market for about two months. It is no secret that I have enjoyed using Fujifilm’s new cameras and for travel, it is my main camera system.
One thing I have been looking forward to is the release of new lenses for this system. Fujifilm published a lens roadmap back in 2012 – plus a couple other photography vendors also announced plans to make “X mount” lenses for this system. One company to do this is Rokinon – you can also find them marketed under the name Bower. I am quite familiar with Rokinon optics – they are inexpensive but well made manual focus lenses.
Their first X mount lens is the 8mm f/2.8 fisheye (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo) which retails for about $US 300.00. I had the opportunity to use one for an extended period of time so the purpose of this very brief article is to document my findings plus show you a few sample images.
A couple years ago, I had used a Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 with my Nikon cameras and for the price (less than $US 300.00), it was an outstanding lens – as long as you did not mind using manual focus. When I heard that Rokinon had introduced an 8mm fisheye lens for the Fujifilm X mount cameras, I was eager to see how it performed.
Even though this is an inexpensive lens, the build quality is first rate. It is quite small (as shown in the first image in this post) and weighs only 260g (0.57 lbs).
Since it is a manual focus lens, I was eager to see how the focus ring worked. It is silky smooth and I liked how it felt when rotating it – the feeling transported back in time to when I used manual focus film cameras. I am not a big manual focus photographer now (something to do with my 40-something year old eyes :o), but the nicely dampened focus ring on this lens was much better than the “focus by wire” method of other mirrorless lenses I have used to date. I also appreciated having the distance scale on the focus ring.
There is a fairly large protruding front element, so you will need to be extra careful not to damage it – even though the hood is built into the lens body. Make sure you use the included lens cap when storing this lens.
There was a metal lens mount which surprised me given the price. Overall, the build quality exceeded my expectations.
As this is a (non Fujifilm) manual focus lens, there are few settings you need to change on your camera before you start using it. After mounting the lens on the camera:
(1) Change the focus switch on the front of the camera to the “M” position:
(2) In the “SHOOTING MENU“, change the menu option “SHOOT WITHOUT LENS” to “ON“. If you do not do this, the camera will not fire with this lens mounted as there are no electrical contacts on it.
(3) In the “SHOOTING MENU“, select the menu option “MOUNT ADAPTER” setting:
(4) I changed (and set) “LENS 6” menu option to 8mm so that this focal length gets recorded in the EXIF data of the image. Again, as there are no electrical contacts on the lens, the camera body has no idea what focal length you are using, so you must manually set it.
Now that you have done all of that, you are ready to start shooting. Due to the lack of electrical contacts on the lens, you are restricted to using Aperture Priority or Manual mode. Keep in mind, when you shoot with this lens, the camera will always record f/1.0 as the f-stop you are using, regardless of the aperture setting being used.
This lens has an angle of view of 180 degrees. That is *really* wide so composition can be tricky at best. There is plenty of distortion as you will see in the next few images, but that is most of the fun and intrigue when using a fisheye lens.
As I mentioned earlier, the manual focus ring on this lens is really nice to use. I rarely use manual focus on my Fujifilm cameras, so it took me a little while to get used to focusing this way. The manual focus capability of the X mount cameras has improved greatly (with the different levels of magnification) with recent firmware upgrades, although there is still room for improvement on Fujifilm’s part. I would *love* to see focus peaking implemented (like one sees on Sony’s cameras), so here’s hoping.
As this is a really wide lens, the depth of field is quite large, even when it is used wide open at f/2.8. I found that by using this lens at “f/8” with the focus ring set to “2m”, I could simply shoot and not worry about focusing in most situations. Of course in really low light, f/8 may not be ideal and you will need to resort to manually focusing the lens. Then again, this is an optic that I would only use once in a while to achieve some funky effects.
After using this lens for a while, it was sharp plus I saw little (if any) chromatic aberration (CA) even with strongly backlit subjects. Like I mentioned before, I used this lens stopped down most of the time (usually f/8) so I did not have to worry much about using the manual focus. The biggest issue one will have with this very wide lens is learning how to compose interesting images – it is tricky at best.
With a little practice though, you can learn to use the distortion to your advantage and keep things like horizons (or other lines) straight whilst “bending” other parts of the image.
I used this lens with the camera in Aperture Priority mode. Even though the camera does not know what aperture the lens is set at, it will still meter the incident light levels correctly. Overall, I found my X-Pro1 accurately metered with this lens attached with the occasional over exposure (about 1/3 of a stop).
I was pleasantly surprised using this fisheye lens. My expectations for build and optical quality were all exceeded and given the price point, it is a bargain. I applaud Rokinon (Bower) for giving us Fujifilm X mount camera users additional lens options and hope (and trust) that they will release additional lenses in the future.
A side note – check back periodically for additional thoughts on the newest lenses for the Fujifilm X mount system. I just received a pre-production copy of the 14mm f/2.8 lens (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo) from Fujifilm for testing plus I will have the chance to use the newly announced Carl Zeiss lenses for Fujifilm cameras.
With all of the new cameras and lenses that are now being released (and announced), this is a really exciting time for all photographers – especially us Fujfilm camera users.
I will leave you with a few images. With some creativity and good composition using a fisheye lens, you will be rewarded with interesting (and different looking) images.
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